Why Murrayfield Racers expect inclusion of Solway Sharks to make life much tougher for them
Murrayfield Racers face-off at home against Solway Sharks in the National Ice Hockey League North Cup on Sunday night (face-off 6pm).
It will be the first of at least four games this season between the two teams after Solway made the decision to compete in both the NIHL and Scottish National League.
Racers’ forward Michael Ireland – part of last season’s league and Stuart Robertson cup-winning team – believes Solway’s decision to ice a team in the SNL this season can only be good for the league and the Racers, even if it means a far tougher ask for his side to be as successful this time around.
Ireland said: “Solway are a tough side who mostly play NIHL and beat us twice in the NIHL North Cup last season. This is going to be a real challenge for us as they play at a higher standard.
“They have a good mix of youth and experience and they had a good junior development programme when I was growing up that have put a lot of players into that Sharks team. They also have guys who play with Glasgow and Dundee (in the Elite League) and have always been tough to play against.”
Asked if tomorrow’s game carries extra significance ahead of the league clashes between the sides, Ireland continued: “Not so much, but what’s really good with Solway playing in the SNL is that it drives up the standard of the league.
“It makes things tougher for us, but that’s a good thing. Having better teams in the SNL is going to be better for everyone, we will all have to raise our game.
“It might take a couple of seasons but teams are already improving. Dundee Tigers have brought in players and were much tougher to play against. The likes of Dundee Comets, Paisley, and Kirkcaldy will improve as they have better teams to compete against.”